Dubai, Nov 6 (IANS) A 23-member strong Indian team, led by reigning world champion Sundar Singh Gurjar, will be out to secure 2020 Tokyo Paralympics qualification slots when the World Para Athletics Championships kick off here on Thursday.
The Indian team, which arrived here on Tuesday evening, did their first official training at the Dubai Club for People of Determination Stadium. Javelin and high jump are the two events that they are hoping to win some medals in.
Team coach Naval Singh said that his athletes were targeting eight medals. At the 2017 London World Championships, India finished in 34th place with five medals, including one gold.
“This time the Indian team is stronger and we are targeting more medals than last time, including four gold. We have six javelin throwers who are also medal contenders. We have some experienced athletes like Sandeep and Sundar, while Naval is a junior world champion. The team is confident of doing well,” Naval Singh told the Paralympic Committee of India.
Gurjar, who is recovering from a right shoulder injury that he picked up at training, is now raring to defend his Javelin F46 gold which he won in London in 2017.
“I have been training well. I had a muscle tear in my shoulder, but I am recovering well. I will come up with a good show and defend my title,” he said.
Sandeep Chaudhary and Sumit, who shattered two world records in men’s F40-46 and 61-64 javelin throw category, respectively, at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Italy in June, will be the other two athletes to watch out for in the javelin events.
Chaudhary, who is an Asian Para Games champion, said, “We have prepared well and are looking forward to the event. This is the last event in 2019 and everyone will be trying to give 100 per cent considering that it’s a Tokyo 2020 qualification event. I am looking to get my personal best. The wind, however, will be a factor at the venue.”
Sumit (21) is aiming to make his debut World Chmpionships special. “I am aiming to break the world record again. Though I don’t have much experience, I am confident of doing well. I am feeling positive,” he said.
Among others, Asian Para Games champion Ekta Bhyan, who will start her campaign on November 11, promised to add to the medal tally at the Worlds this time. Rio 2016 gold medallist Thangavelu Mariyappan and London 2017 silver medallist Sharad Kumar will be in action in the men’s high jump T63 finals on November 14.
Among the Indians competing in the finals on the opening day are Ajitkumar Amrutlal Panchal and Vinod Kumar, both competing in the men’s discus throw F52 event.